A Topic I Never Thought I’d Write About.

This one is definitely for the ladies out there. I’m in my 40s, and this month, for the first time ever, I was looking forward to getting my period. Because of these:

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Reusable cloth pads. I’ve been vaguely thinking about trying some sort of sustainable menstrual product, because I don’t like wearing disposable pads for two reasons: I don’t feel they are safe AND they cost money. Money I’d much rather spend on new garden plants or chickens. Disposable pads (and tampons) are made of plastics and unlike almost every other product, the manufacturers are not required to list exactly what chemicals go into the making of them. I’m uncomfortable with that. I don’t trust manufacturers!

I toyed with the idea of some kind of cup, but I’m a pad girl, through and through. If you ARE interested in trying a cup, I do highly recommend watching It’s Just Kelli’s YouTube channel. She tries all kinds of cups and other menstrual products, and is extremely honest and real. And entertaining. Here’s one on the first time she tried a cup:

For me, though, the only thing I was interested in as a replacement to disposable pads was period panties or cloth pads. After doing a ton of shopping and comparing, and requesting info of experts on facebook cloth pad groups, I bought a pair of EvaWear panties, and a small selection of cloth pads. The panties, I bought on It’s Just Kelli’s recommendation (because she’s absolutely right, Thinx panties are WAY overpriced!)

The panties are SO comfortable and actually cute. I would wear them anytime, actually. After testing them on a heavier flow day, I ended up switching out of them after only a short time. They did keep the blood in just fine, but they seemed “wet” and gave me a sensation like I was going to leak through my clothes even though I was actually in no danger of actually leaking. For light days, however, they are heaven – and also for those days when you think your period might be starting, but you’re not sure, and you’re at work, and you don’t want any accidents, and so you end up wearing and wasting a pad when your period doesn’t start? These panties are fantastic for that. I’m going to be getting a few more pairs.

But actual cloth pads? Isn’t that…icky? Wouldn’t it stink? Wouldn’t it be uncomfortable? Because I was so uncertain about this whole thing, I only bought two pads from etsy sellers, and a very inexpensive pack of seven pads from a seller on Amazon. Let’s talk about the Amazon pads first, because those are the first I tried.

They were cute, I’ll give them that. Most cloth pads are.

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The print material is waterproof PUL, and the grey fleece material is made of bamboo, and is what lays against you, and soaks up the blood. They are SO COMFORTABLE. I never particularly thought my disposable pads were uncomfortable, but now I realize they were. These cloth pads, wow. It was instant love. And unlike the panties, I never felt “wet” while wearing them. In fact, on my heaviest day, I took them off, looked at them, and thought: Huh. Maybe my heavy day isn’t until tomorrow. I certainly haven’t bled much. And then, folks, I washed it out, and the water turned a very bright, very pretty shade of crimson. My whole period was like that! I felt like I had the lightest period ever…only the evidence otherwise was there in the pad. Astonishing.

And speaking of the washing…wasn’t that gross? No, actually it wasn’t. Your mileage may vary, but I found the process more interesting than anything else. Because I had so few pads, I washed each one after I wore it, rather than washing them altogether at the end, as it seems most cloth pad users do. I simply ran COLD water over it in the bathroom sink, squeezing it periodically until the water ran clear, then handwashed it with soap, and hung it to dry. Took like a minute and half, and by the next morning, it was dry and ready to wear again. I’ve already gone back to Amazon and ordered more of these pads, in heavier overnight ones, and light pantyliners.

I’m glad I tried the Amazon ones first, because I honestly was not a fan of the ones I ordered off Etsy.

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This wasn’t the pads’ fault. They are both well made and worked perfectly well…however, they were both made of cotton flannel with a waterproof liner, and I found the cotton flannel to be not nearly so cozy and comfortable, and also much harder to wash the blood out of. The bamboo fleece ones just were so, so easy to wash! And no stains at all. The unicorn one, in particular still has a small stain on it that would not come out, even in cold water. That one will require some sort of soak with a stain removing product, and I’m just not feeling that sort of effort.

The things I really loved about the Amazon cloth pads (in addition to the feel of wearing them and the ease of washing) was how they didn’t slip around at all in my underwear. Some people talk about having slippage and bunching…this didn’t happen to me. I wore snug-fitting cotton underpants, and they did not move at all, even overnight. I’ve definitely had more trouble with disposable pads bunching and moving! I also loved the lack of…well, smell. Disposable pads (unless you change them out VERY often) collect foul odors. These cloth pads didn’t.

I’ve also ready many, many statements that wearing cloth pads can (for some women) reduce their flow, the length of their period, and relieve cramping. I didn’t notice any reduction in the first two, but I did have only a tiny amount of cramping on the first day, and nothing whatever after that. I tend to have a lot of fluctuation as far as how much cramping I get, so I’ll have to see how it goes through a few more months. But I normally always get headaches and general feelings of being not-quite-well during my period, and I had absolutely none of that this month. In fact, if I hadn’t been forced to think constantly about my period because I was evaluating how the cloth pads worked/felt, I wouldn’t have hardly remembered I was having it. That’s a first, for sure!

I’ve also heard that wearing cloth pads can be a wonderful improvement for woman with menstrual issues like endometriosis and PCOS, reducing their symptoms to near-nil in many cases. All-in-all, I found myself walking around this past week, wishing I could tell every woman I met about the wonders of cloth pads. But since that would just be too, too awkward, I’m writing this blog post instead.

If you’re currently wearing disposable pads, try cloth ones. I think you’ll be amazed. If you wear disposable tampons, still consider trying them. It’s healthier for you, and I read a number of blogs/watched YouTube videos by women who had never worn anything but tampons their entire menstrual life…until they tried cloth pads.

Seriously, folks. I’m already looking forward to next month, because I have some new pads to try…and because I know that for the first time in about 35 years, my periods won’t be nasty, uncomfortable, and unpleasant.

Oh- and the cloth pads also fold up into cute little squares to carry in your purse.

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Rabbits and Other Critters

Let’s talk about the rabbits first. I wish I would have gotten meat rabbits years ago – they are fantastic! Such easy care, especially in a colony system, and I am discovering more uses for them besides meat. Sorrel, my buck, is such a tame sweetie, and his favorite food in the world is hedge bindweed…luckily enough, hedge bindweed is the greatest evil in my garden. I’ve taken to penning him outside in a bindweed-infested area, and letting him take care of the problem. This is pre-bunny:

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This is post-bunny (I removed the chair, once it was freed from its chains):

 

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In this pic, I’ve actually enlarged the area over to the left, so he can start cleaning the bindweed out of the compost/bucket storage area. He loves it! It’s amazing how quickly one bunny can make bindweed disappear! And for those of you who might have seen bindweed on the list of plants poisonous to rabbits, never fear. After turning the internet upside down and hearing from a vet with knowledge of bindweed, it turns out that there are two different varieties of bindweed: hedge and field. Field bindweed is the poisonous one. I have hedge bindweed, and it’s supposedly edible even to humans. I tasted a leaf, and while I was expecting it to be bitter, it was actually good. I’m still a little leery of eating it myself, however! It just seems…wrong.

We’ve had about five rabbit meals now, and each was terrific. I’m super impressed with how tender and good it is, and from six 5lb rabbits, I’ll be able to get around 19 meals for the two of us, counting things like liver and broth from the bones. I’ve heard you can even make rabbit bacon…I really want to try that!

In other critter news, the snowflake bobwhite quail pair has moved from one coop into another. They used to be in the ‘display coop’ in the center of my garden, but it’s really not a great cage for a flighty bird like bobwhites – too difficult to clean when I have to worry about them spooking and flying out. I put them into a slightly larger coop in the chicken garden.

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I’ve noticed that quail and chicken like to be in company with other; the chickens hang out around the cage and the quail like to watch them. Plus, the quail like to eat the fermented grain I feed the chickens, and in two days they’ve already learned what it means when I call the chickens to dinner, and they’ve started demanding their own share. Since they are so close, it’s easy to throw a little into their cage! They’ve also started building a nest. It would be nice if they decided to start a family – but they did try last year, with no success. The male has a slight leg deformity, and I wonder if perhaps he’s unable to mate her properly.

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The other reason I wanted to move the quail out of the display coop is because it’s difficult to wrap in plastic during the winter to keep out the wind and rain. The new plan is to keep part-time critters inside it, ones who will occupy it only during the summer, and in the winter will be moved inside. Specifically, a pair of guinea pigs!

I was not intending to immediately get the pigs, but I sort of accidentally-on-purpose wandered by the rodent section of a pet store, and they had this little girl.

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Meet Winnifred (also known as Piggo). I’ve had a number of guinea pigs during my life, and while most of them were nice, I’ve NEVER met a pig like this one. From the first instant she met us, she loved us. She snuggles under our chins and purrs and chatters happily the whole time we’re holding her. When she’s tired, she falls over on her side on my chest with her little legs stretched out and takes a nap. She likes Bundy, our cat, and isn’t frightened by our extremely excited corgi – even when he can’t contain himself and jumps or scratches at her cage.

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Now I’m keeping a look-out for a friend for her. I’d like one of the wire-haired ‘teddy bear’ type, but we’ll have to see what shows up.

Lastly, I tried the old cucumber trick on my cat. If you’re not aware of this, go to YouTube, and search for cats and cucumbers. It is hysterical.  Unfortunately, Bundy did not have quite the same reaction:

And I’ll end this blog with a couple of cat-in-a-box photos, because if there is one thing on earth Bundy is obsessed with, it’s boxes. When a package comes, he’s often trying to force his way into the box at one end, while I’m cutting open the other. This particular box…well, it was a bit of a tight fit.

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I’m not even sure where all of his body is!

Bindweed, and Other Stuff I’m Working On.

The big devil in my garden is hedge bindweed.

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It is literally EVERYWHERE. If I didn’t spend time continually pulling it, by the end of summer, I would have no garden, just a massive pile of bindweed. It winds up everything, pulling it down the ground and smothering it.

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Yep, that’s definitely not a currant flower….

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The only hope I have is that permaculture books say that if your soil improves enough, it goes away on it’s own. It certainly can’t be smothered under mulch, black plastic, or paving stones. The neighbor sprays his with roundup, and it laughs in his face as it pretends to die, then springs up from the ground again with the strength of ten men.  Supposedly, if you keep pinching it off at the ground every time it sprouts, it will eventually grow weak and die…but I simply have too much of it and too much garden. It would be full time job to pinch it all.

Recently, however, I discovered there are two kinds of bindweed. One is field bindweed (which, if you can believe it, is the “bad bindweed”). That bindweed is non-edible, but, as I discovered, hedge bindweed is actually an edible plant, with several nutritious benefits. I doubt I’ll eat it myself, but as my rabbits have always made a beeline for it, whenever they get out in the yard, I’ll now be feeding it to them. It will make me feel a little better, to have an actual use for the fiendish stuff! A British vet actually says it makes wonderful bunny fodder; those lists that have bindweed listed as a poisonous plant to bunnies are referring to field bindweed, so just make sure which kind you are growing before you feed it.

It’s actually been a wonderful summer so far here – not hot like usual, and enough glorious rain to keep everything watered. The past few years have been abnormal for the PNW: upper eighties temps, and no rain whatsoever during the summer. I hated that with a passion; I’m a true Washingtonian – there is nothing I love more than a summer rain! It is so fantastic to be outside in a summer rain, and smell the green, and feel everything all fresh and crisp!

But since there has been rainy days, I’ve kept up with my crocheting, which is normally just a winter activity for me. I’ve put aside the baby blankets, though, and am just making infant hats. Lots and lots of adorable little hats! So much fun to make.

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I also made the most beautiful egg bread yesterday. I do love making bread!

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Favorite YouTube Channels

Today I thought I’d show you a few of my personal favorite YouTube channels. First up is Dutchsinse. I LOVE this guy – he’s truly brilliant. You know how great scientific discoveries happen? There is the established “science” that everyone knows is true, and then there’s one maverick voice giving a contrasting opinion. Gravity exists. Germs are what cause disease. The earth travels around the sun. The earth is round. These guys are mocked, cursed, and often destroyed…but eventually, science comes around to the correct view.

Can earthquakes be forecasted similar to weather? Up until very recently, science said no. But Dutchsinse has been saying yes for eight years. Using only a commercially available program that lists earthquakes from approved governmental sources (USGS, EMSC, GeoNet) he tracks earthquakes across the globe, and proves they follow certain patterns across the globe. It’s fascinating, especially since science has now said that forecasting earthquakes IS possible, and they are currently testing out their theory – a theory which, might I say, is pretty much EXACTLY what Dutchsinse has been doing all along! The kicker for me is that the theory fits hand-in-glove with what the Bible says is true of earthquakes, that is absolutely the final authority for me. Check out his most recent video below:

Much love, Dutch!

In homesteading, my favorite guy is Justin Rhodes of Abundant Permaculture. He’s doing it right, folks – especially the way he’s raising his kids.  Love this recent video of his:

I’m totally getting a guard goose in the spring…if I’m still here on earth.

Next up is Jack Hibbs. This guy is amazing. Every single sermon of his is funny, humble, fascinating, and deeply passionate and insightful.

Then there is Amir Tsarfati of Behold Israel. Current middle eastern events and Bible prophecy, from a Jewish believer in Christ, and a former officer of the IDF.

And then there’s J.D. Farag. He’s a pastor is Hawaii who gives the most joyful and enthusiastic Bible Prophecy updates I’ve seen. A true man of God.

And lastly, here’s one from my own YouTube channel…my corgi Dexter getting a good head scratchin’.

First Rabbit Harvest

I am so proud of myself this week. There was a time, not so long ago, when I never imagined I could raise and harvest my own meat – even though factory-farmed meat sickens me, and I desperately wanted a way of assuring my meat was humanely and happily raised, as well as humanely killed. I also liked the idea of knowing exactly what my future meat was eating!

I started out by designing and building – entirely by myself (other than some help lifting the walls and roof into place) a colony bunny barn. You can read about that, here.

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From my first breeding, I got six kits, and boy howdy, were they cute!

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Twelve weeks later, they weren’t quite so adorable, and it was time.

I used my ballista, a captive bolt gun, which made the death entirely instantaneous and humane. The part that was hardest on the rabbits was the weighing before hand – for some reason, they hate going into the basket scale. The rest of the process was MUCH faster and simpler than chickens.  I let the meat rest in the fridge for 24 hours, and then cut it up into servings and froze them. Again, much easier than chickens!

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From six rabbits, I have enough meat for fourteen meals, PLUS a huge pot of extra bits to turn into broth. Several more meals, right there!

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We ate the livers fried – rabbit livers are even more mellow flavored than chicken livers – and yesterday, had our first official rabbit meal. I used two of the thighs, in an Asian sauce over rice.

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Turned out perfectly! I’m sold. These rabbits are going to work out really well on our farm.

The Importance of Variety

Have you noticed that fruit just doesn’t taste very good anymore? When I was younger, there was so much FLAVOR in a fresh strawberry, fresh apricot, fresh pear. Nowadays, everything you buy in the store is so bland, so…cardboard compared to how it used to be. I feel sorry for the younger generation. Most of them have probably never tasted how fruit is supposed to taste! One difference is the way produce is shipped across long distances. Everything is picked unripe, then allowed to “ripen” as it drives across state lines.

The other problem is, even locally-grown fruit doesn’t taste right anymore, and that’s because of the varieties farmers are choosing to grow. Heirloom varieties of strawberries, for example, are smaller, and very fragile. You can’t pick them roughly, and pile them in a box, and expect them to keep for even a few hours, much less for days. When I was a kid, you could tell at a glance the local strawberries from the imported strawberries, because the local strawberries (then heirloom varieties) almost look tiny, smashed, and on the verge of decay…but if you could catch them at the right moment, wow were they good!

Farmers nowadays – even the small local farms – want their produce to last on the store shelves. You can’t blame them, but they are choosing to sacrifice taste for convenience. I went to one of my local organic farms last Friday to u-pick a few berries. Ugh. They were large, perfect, gorgeous berries…and they didn’t have hardly any flavor.

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The heirloom variety I chose to grow in my own yard was particularly for its flavor, not its keeping ability: the Shuksan. I don’t have any pictures of these (we gobbled them up too fast) but the difference in taste is striking. The only reason I bothered getting any from the local farm is because I want some to freeze, and I simply don’t have room to grow enough in garden. The ones in my garden are fresh eating only!

So if you are planning to put in some strawberries, don’t plant a variety simply because it “grows well in your area” or is what the local farmers plant. Really research the flavors. You don’t want your berries to taste like commercial berries!

Read this article and see if your mouth doesn’t start watering for some old-fashioned strawberry taste!

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Garden Things

Just a few quick things…and a chicken video at the end.

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I was reading the Art of Doing Stuff (highly, HIGHLY recommend her blog…and not just because I was the reader who told her about Grow a Little Fruit Tree!) and she mentions she puts zip lock bags around her baby apples to protect them from pests. I don’t really have much trouble with bug pests, but I do have crazy squirrels. I’m wondering if bagging the apples will be enough to throw them off?  It’s worth a try!

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Last year, my plum tree was eaten alive by aphids…until the ladybugs finally swooped in like batman in red spotted body armor and saved the day. This year, they learned where my plum is, and they didn’t wait until the entire tree was covered…only a few leaves.  Wait, don’t spray, and the beneficials WILL come!

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And finally, the chicken video, in which we all learn that Ellie HATES my camera. I don’t know why. It’s not as if she hasn’t had pictures taken of her since she was a day old…